Mark Richt isn’t going anywhere this offseason. The defensive coaches are going to get the benefit of the doubt after having had only one year to clean up the mess Willie Martinez left. There is no longer any insane coaching directing special teams’ play.
After a 6-6 season, that leaves the offensive coordinator to bear the brunt of fans’ fury.
His quarterback doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
… Murray also laughs when asked about the play-calling criticism.
“I don’t know why people complain,” Murray said. “We’re gonna set about six records this year. We’re gonna score 30 points in eight straight games. I mean that’s all due to play-calling. I don’t know how you’re gonna complain when we’re throwing 30 points on the board.. … If you go back and look through the games that we’ve lost, most of it’s due to our errors: fumbling it, throwing interceptions, us not taking care of the ball.”
In fairness, there is some truth to that defense. I might even take it further and note that some of Bobo’s timidity in playcalling could be chalked up to having to work around dysfunctional personnel performances at key moments, such as Murray’s jacked up start in the Florida game. (Chapas being less than 100% since the South Carolina game didn’t help, either.)
And playcalling has to account for what I would argue has turned out to be the best season for a freshman quarterback in Georgia history.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is putting his stamp on Georgia’s record book entering the Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve:
• Murray has 28 total touchdowns, 24 passing and four rushing, which ties him with D.J. Shockley (2005) for Georgia’s single-season standard.
• He needs one touchdown pass to match the 25 that Matthew Stafford threw in 2008 to set the school’s single-season mark.
• His efficiency rating of 162.73 this season is ahead of the 155.8 school-record rating Mike Bobo set in 1997.
• He already holds Georgia’s freshman passing record with 2,851 yards, which ranks second all-time in SEC annals.
That’s not just a great freshman season. That’s a great season, period. And as David Greene points out, the team needed every yard of it.
… Greene’s four seasons as Georgia’s starter coincided with the four years the Bulldogs thrived under former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Georgia allowed 30 or more points once under VanGorder, and that was to LSU in 2003 when Nick Saban’s Tigers were on their way to a national championship.
The Bulldogs have allowed 30 or more points five times this season and gave up 29 in an inexplicable loss at Colorado. They enter the Liberty Bowl having scored 30 or more points a program-record seven straight times, yet they are 5-2 in those games.
Hence Greene’s reasoning why Murray is dealing with far more pressure to produce.
“I never felt like that,” Greene said. “The best thing you can have as a quarterback is a great defense. When I was at Georgia, I just had to manage the game, protect the ball and make the plays when they had to be made. When we played at Auburn in ’02, we were horrible offensively, but our defense kept us in that game. Nobody would be talking about the pass to Michael Johnson if our defense didn’t force so many three-and-outs.
“Aaron has had to be pretty efficient, and he was.”
True ‘dat. But – and you knew there was a “but” coming, right? – you can’t help but wish that Murray’s position coach had sat down and had a chat with the offensive coordinator after the Louisiana game about what they had.
“Aaron may have shocked the coaches a little, because when you go back to the start of the season, they were pretty conservative and didn’t try to give him too much,” Greene said.
No doubt A.J.’s absence was crippling and fed into that feeling of not pushing too much. And that his return had a liberating effect on the offense. The stats certainly bear that out.
… During Green’s four-game NCAA suspension, the Bulldogs averaged 352.3 yards and 24.3 points per game. After the star receiver’s return, they averaged 414.5 yards and 39.3 points per game.
But Green is most likely gone for good next year, and so is Kris Durham. So how much confidence should we share with Orson Charles about next season?
… Tight end Orson Charles, who should be a key part of next year’s offense, suspects the fans that want the offense opened up will get their wish next year.
“When we lost those four straight games, everybody was telling everybody that we have to fire Coach Richt and Bobo and whatnot. And we just stuck together,” Charles said. “Now that Aaron has a year under his belt, he knows what Aaron can and can’t do. Now he’ll feel comfortable bootlegging him, making him run, throwing the deep ball, (the stuff) that he’s proven this year.”
That’s the hard part for me. It’s not that Bobo doesn’t flash moments of brilliance. He does. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to grasp the weaknesses in an opponent’s defense and game plan to take advantage of them. He did that in every game I saw this year. He’s quite capable with his in-game adjustments, too. He did a brilliant job in the Florida game of holding things together early and then going after what the Gators gave him to push the game into overtime.
And Aaron Murray shows that Bobo knows how to develop and deploy talent.
That’s pretty much a checklist of what you want from an offensive coordinator. So why do I feel hesitant about jumping on board Orson Charles’ bandwagon?